Tasmanian man fined $200k by federal court for running fake VET courses vows to appeal

A Tasmanian man who was found by the Federal Court of Australia to have run a series of illegitimate vocational training courses says he plans to appeal the decision.

Key points:

  • The Federal Court found Leon Vere King operated a company that was not a registered training organisation and issued 31 VET statements of attainment
  • It found his actions could “fray” public confidence in the VET sector
  • King said he was “bewildered” by the events and that he would have been “better of being a criminal”

Launceston man Leon Vere King was last week ordered to pay $200,000 in fines and court costs for teaching unauthorised VET courses in first aid and traffic management in the state’s north.

The Federal Court of Australia heard participants were issued certificates that featured a nationally recognised training logo and provider numbers for genuine registered training organisations.

The judgement found the company King was operating under, Crown Consulting and Auditing, was not a registered training organisation.

It found King had contravened the Act 33 times over a two-and-half year period between May 2014 and September 2016 when he issued 31 VET statements of attainment.

Mr King said he was acting in “true and honest good faith” at the time his business was in operation.

“The ramifications for this have been so great, I would have been better off being a criminal,” he said.

“It would have been less of a penalty on me and my family … they’re the ones who have really been crucified in this.”

Mr King said he felt “bewildered” when the certification of the registered training organisation his company was operating under was thrown into doubt.

“I immediately contacted the companies concerned asking them not to issue the certificates and refunded the money,” he said.

Conduct ‘frays public confidence’ in VET sector

In his judgment, Federal Court Justice Nye Perram said the certificates were invalid and misleading and had the potential to erode credibility in the VET sector.

“These purported to be, but were not, VET statements of attainment,” it read.

Justice Perram said there was “no doubt” King was motivated by financial gain and that his actions had the potential to “undermine public confidence in the vocational training sector”.

“The conduct in question not only frays public confidence in the legitimacy of VET courses, but also in the certificates of attainment,” he said.

The judgment found 10 employees from shipbuilding company, Incat received parts of an unauthorised first aid course in 2014 by King’s company.

In 2016, King also taught parts of a traffic management course to 11 people employed by employment agency, Max Solutions.

In a statement, Max Solutions said it was satisfied the matter had been dealt with appropriately by the courts.

“MAX Solutions identified this organisation was not accredited under Australian Skills Quality Authority guidelines and therefore no payment was made at the time,” it read.

“Upon identifying this serious issue, we immediately arranged for equivalent training by an accredited training organisation to our impacted customers.”

Justice Perram said it was important to deter King from engaging in the same conduct again, as well as others who might be tempted to conduct unauthorised courses or to issue fake certificates of attainment.

He also expressed concern that false accreditation could go undetected given the size of the VET sector.

The judgement said invoices totalling more than $7,000 had been issued, some of which had since been withdrawn and refunded.

SourceAAP:www.abc.net.au

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